Flora,  Permaculture,  Veggies

Garlic & Onion in the Ground

With the cooler Autumn weather here comes time to plant out garlic and onions. We’ve had a little bit of experience growing onions before and recently harvested our delicious shallots (perfect for chopping up for a sandwich or two!), but haven’t tried normal onions or garlic before. We’re super hopeful that these all take off as it’ll save us money, and nothing beats organic and fresh!

The Garlic

Mr BirdCat and I eat a lot of garlic! Nearly every cooked dish has at least some in there…and more often 2-3x the amount the recipe will say. It isn’t unusual for us to go through a whole bulb a week for just the two of us, so garlic is definitely an important resource for us to grow ourselves. We were recently given some fresh garlic from a friend in barter for some of her sourdough starter, and it packs such a punch! Fresh is best.

Garlic planted, 4″ apart with the points toward the sky

I’ve read that garlic from the supermarket can be broken up and grown, but that sometimes it can have chemical sprays on it as growth inhibitors. Organic from the store is much better, but it still didn’t sit quite right. This garlic — if it grew — would be the start of our garlic supply for years to come as we’d replant cloves out.

Enter, Volcano Produce (click the link to see their Facebook page)

Volcano Produce Stall near Tower Hill, VIC

Volcano Produce is a local chemical-free grower, and a great inspiration. They had two descent sized boxes of already broken garlic, so I grabbed one to split with Mr BirdCat’s Mum, and I couldn’t be happier with it.

The garlic sprouting through its straw blanket

Already, in just a few weeks, the garlic has sprouted up amazingly! In that time, I was also given another bag of garlic from someone’s garden (dropped off for free by the local seed saver’s group), and planted that as well with more than enough to share with a friend who has been getting her veggie garden up too. I went from thinking I’d struggle to fill one of the new Veggie Beds, to the bed being two-thirds full of garlic, and I still had to fit all of the onions in!

So exciting! And it grows taller every day!

The Onions

We purchased three types of onion seeds from the Diggers Club at the beginning of the year:

  • Sweet Domenica – a quick growing sweet white onion, yeilding 500g per onion in 11 weeks
  • Cream Gold – a classic white onion that stores well, medium growing time
  • Red Marksman – a late growing red onion that stores “exceptionally well”

And I planted all three types in punnets around the middle of April, sticking them in our nursery box.

Little onion seedling still holding onto its seed

Almost all of them sprouted! It was great watching more and more pop up each day, and I was eager to plant them out. I read something somewhere about planting out onions once they were a few inches tall, and that’s all the evidence I needed. Only two weeks (really shows my lack of patience, haha) after they were planted, I planted them out in the garden!

That may have been a mistake.

After coming back inside and washing the soil off my hands, I decided to do a little more reading up on them. And found someone else who said to plant them out once they have three stalks…

The onions have been covered in a light layer of straw to try and keep them and the soil protected, but with the cool stormy weather we’ve been having I don’t hold out much hopes for them! The plan now is to plant out another batch of each type as quickly as possible, and leave them in the greenhouse much longer. I’ve also read that trimming the tops to make sure they don’t fall over leaning everywhere can help.

At least they looked nice in the ground to begin with!

Each day is a lesson, and without having done any of this before, the trick is to soak up the experience and move forward, doing better next time!

Have you planted anything out too early? How did it go? Have any tips for growing garlic and onion? Let us know in the comments below!

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